It’s a true mountain day. This race is so close, and [this stage] is effing hard. Forget the first Category 2, then you get right into the Hors Category Croix de Fer … super hard … downhill and then you hit the double-whammy of Telegraphe, slight downhill and the Galibier … it could be an epic battle.
“Again a downhill finish takes a little bit out of it. That downhill on the back side of the Galibier, which is technically called a different climb. The Tour de France actually goes up that side from time to time, but they don’t call it the Galibier when they go up that side.
“Typically, this stage is run exactly like this: you do the Croix de Fer … Telegraph … Galibier … descend … take a right … Alpe d’Huez. That’s the traditional route. But instead when they get to the bottom of the Galibier [today], they don’t go right to Alpe d’Huez, they go left. It’s a fast, straight, downhill finish headed towards Briancon. But they actually finish way before Briancon.
“The downhill is sketchy, Romain Bardet is licking his chops. The thing he’s got to hope for when he gets down and takes a left on the highway, headed toward the finish – he’s got to hope the wind’s blowing the right way. If it’s blowing in his face, they’re coming right back. If there’s a tailwind and he’s thinking ‘yellow’, he can stay away. Two other things: [yesterday] was hard; nervous and hard. Then No2: the day after this, we’re finally back to a true uphill finish up the Col d’Izoard, which is damned hard.”